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5 missed opportunities to engage and retain staff

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Are you confident in the talent management processes you have in place? If so, you’re not alone – according to Mercer’s 2017 Global Talent Trends Study, a majority of HR leaders globally (68%) expressed confidence in their talent management processes they have in place.

However, sharing insights from over 7,500 perspectives globally (445 from Singapore), the study also found that 44% of employees are planning to leave their current role in 2017 despite being satisfied with their jobs. This highlights a possible misalignment between what is on the HR agenda and what employees want.

Digging deeper, the study pointed out five areas of missed opportunities to leverage what employees report as important.

Health over wealth

In Singapore, 62% of employees ranked their health as more important than their wealth or career.

However, health and wellbeing ranked second to last on HR leaders’ list of top talent management priorities this year. Perhaps that’s why only 37% of employees indicated they expect their workplace to become more focused on employee health in the next few years.

“Navigating the changing talent ecosystem by redesigning future roles and supporting employees’ health and wealth needs is already becoming a market differentiator,” Ilya Bonic, President of Mercer’s Career business, said.

Wealth over career

When asked what would make a positive impact on their work situation, fair and competitive compensation ranked at the top of employees’ agenda. Yet rewards was still ranked outside the top five priorities for HR leaders, with only 30% of HR leaders prioritising it.

Furthermore, while the majority (95%) of employees reported that they want to be recognised and rewarded for contributions beyond the organisation’s financial results and activity metrics, not quite half (45%) think their company does this well.

Gig is big

It is no surprise that flexible work arrangements are important to employees. Thankfully, more than half of employees reported that both their direct manager and company leaders are supportive of it (55% and 51%, respectively).

However, 34% of employees in Singapore still feel that there aren’t enough flexible work options.

Furthermore, 50% of employees believe working remotely or part-time can adversely impact promotional opportunities.

While more than three-quarters (80%) of full-time employees would consider working on a contingent or contract basis, neither business executives nor HR leaders have embraced these new forms of employment as much as expected or desired. Both the C-suite and HR leaders agree that they do not expect the “gig economy” to have a significant impact on their business in the next two years.

“It’s a risk for any organisation to ignore opportunities for people to work more independently,” Kate Bravery, global leader for Mercer’s Career business, commented. “Those companies that find ways to leverage a more fluid workforce will harness growth and outpace the competition.”

A relevant experience

Beyond flexibility, personalisation is essential for creating an experience that resonates with employees.

Sadly, less than half (40%) of employees say that their company understands their unique interests and skills, while 53% want their company to increase this understanding and help them invest in themselves.

“Employees are increasingly bringing a consumer expectation to the workplace since it is how they engage in almost every aspect of their lives,” Bravery said. “It creates an authentic environment in which employees can excel. When done right, it does not feel like personalisation – it just feels like a great experience.”

Digital divide

Three quarters of business executives (75%) believe technology at work (including automation, robotics, machine learning, and wearables) is the workforce trend likely to have the most impact on their organisations in the next two years. Yet, just over half (56%) of HR professionals agree.

For employees, it is even more basic: less than one in five (18%) organisations in Mercer’s study say they do not provide any digital experience for interacting with HR.

“Despite the desire to cling to more traditional methods, the landscape for the workplace, the workforce, and the future of work are changing too quickly and drastically to do so,” Bravery said.

“To stay competitive, it is imperative that business executives and HR leaders collaborate and that organisations take new approaches to how employees access knowledge, adapt to technology, manage, communicate, and leverage their careers.”

Mercer's 2017 Global Talent Trends Study (figure 1) Mercer's 2017 Global Talent Trends Study (figure 2)


Additionally, Mercer’s study found that while 75% of organisations in Singapore are planning to redesign their structure in the next two years, only 25% of business executives say their organisation is “change agile” – although this is significantly higher than the global average of just 4%.

Puneet Swani, partner and growth markets career business leader at Mercer said, “In an established financial hub such as Singapore, it is imperative to fully understand patterns in talent flow and drivers of change.”

Swani added that it is encouraging to see that compared to the global average, more companies in the Little Red Dot consider their organisations as ‘change agile’.

However, “this only puts a spotlight on the 75% of companies highlighting their need to rethink their talent infrastructure and day to day practices helping them to become more prepared and stay ahead in this competitive landscape,” he said.

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